You may have heard of the world famous bike ride called “Critical Mass” or been lucky enough to participate in it. On the other hand, you may have been unfortunate enough to be in your car, frozen and frustrated while it passes bye. The idea of Critical Mass is for all bike riders to gather at a predetermined spot and time and just ride your bike through the city with all the other bike enthusiasts. The critical mass literally takes over the streets. Its about 75% for the love of riding your bike and the remaining 25% is a middle finger to drivers.I was lucky to be in Vienna, Austria at the same time as Critical Mass and was able to participate. Lucky for a backpacker on a budget, its free.
critical mass bike rideThe event takes place typically on the last Friday of each month. I attended the one in September. When I arrived, there was a gathering of maybe 100 people, which I was surprised by. There was a raffle and people could win bike gear.
There were some talented riders who were doing some awesome bike tricks. The atmosphere was great. The addition of some amazing bikes completely set up with a stereo system and booming speakers added to the fun. This being Europe and alcohol being legal on the streets, beer made its addition of fun as well.
When we finally started riding, the number had grown to around 500 riders.
The idea of this ride was to dress either like a bride or a groom depending on your sex. However, I think some people were confused with their sexual identity. At the end of the ride there was an officer of the state who would marry you to your bike. Of course its all in good fun, for the love of bikes.
Being a backpacking traveler on a budget, I had to rent my bike and wasnt able to dress up, but there were many riders who didnt dress up either. In fact there was one guy who didnt dress at all. I think he got confused with the other famous Vienna ride the “Naked Bike Ride.” I dont think Ill make it to that one.
Critical mass bike ride
The one thing I was amazed by was the fact that the police were completely on board with this.
No one knew the route of this ride, the organizer of the event rode in front with some police and they determined the route as we rode along. Motorcycle cops were ahead and behind blocking streets from pedestrians and cars.
We owned the streets. We even shut down the freeway for awhile and got to ride on it.
Occasionally I would see a local on a motorcycle try to squeeze through, and participants would get right in front of them and block them so they couldnt move, then inevitably shouting ensued. It was entertaining.
Our ride was about two and half hours long. It was a nice, relaxing pace.
Nobody broke out in a sweat. Our final destination was an outdoor beach bar on the river.
This is where the marriage ceremonies and the drinking began.
Then after the sunset they showed some bike documentaries and movies on the outdoor movie screen.
It was good time and I would definitely repeat Critical Mass.
Look for it in your city. Follow the list of rides at criticalmass.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_rides . If it doesnt occur in your area, be proactive and start one up. You cant beat em, so you might as well join em.